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BBSRC calls for community support in move to four annual grant rounds

20 June 2005

As it prepares to move to four grant rounds a year from this month, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is stressing the need for closer than ever cooperation between applicants, referees and administrators to achieve its goal of smoothing out demand for funding over the year and ensuring the highest possible standard of review despite large increases in applications for funding.

Applications to BBSRC have climbed steadily over the past two years. The Council has consulted on how best to handle the situation in a way that does not waste researchers’ time in submitting applications that are not funded. Last year it took the decision in principle to double the number of rounds a year.

“We have a mechanism in place to deliver the conventional Committee-supported peer review processes favoured by our research community, and still increase to four rounds a year to ease the pressures on reviewers and administrators that are the inevitable consequence of rounds with huge numbers of applications going to each committee,” said Professor Nigel Brown, BBSRC Director of Science and Technology.

The move will benefit applicants as doubling the number of committee meetings a year will reduce the number of applications considered at each meeting and applications can be submitted when they are ready rather being rushed or held back for six months.

But to work properly, procedures have to be streamlined. “We will not have time to chase incomplete, or otherwise incorrect applications, or missing comments from referees,” said Professor Brown. Applications that are not ready to go to Committees on time will have to be deferred to the next meeting.

BBSRC will be closely monitoring this process.

“We understand that scientists will worry about any change that could increase the chances of their application being delayed, or put extra pressure on them as peer reviewers, but we hope that they will recognise that by keeping to the formal schedules for applicants and referees, we can bring the benefit of the extra rounds, and keep the continuity and standard committee approaches which we believe work best for the bioscience community,” said Brown.

ENDS

Notes to editors

BBSRC’s intention to move to four grant rounds a year was announced in June 2004.

The following closing dates for applications have now been fixed:

2005

  • 22 June
  • 14 September

2006

  • 18 January
  • 26 April
  • 12 July
  • 18 October

Requests for referees' comments will be sent out approximately 4 and 7 weeks after the above dates, and the requests for applicants' responses will be 7-10 weeks after these dates.

Running four grants rounds a year will significantly limit the ability of the BBSRC Office to undertake exceptional and ad hoc activities.

We are unable to accept applications after the closing date and time. All communication with applicants and referees will be by e-mail. A maximum of one week (including weekends) will be allowed to provide any missing information or faults identified by the office. Applicants will be allowed one week (including weekends) to respond to referees’ comments.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

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